Qix[a][b] is a 1981 puzzle arcade game developed and published by Taito. The objective is to fence off, or claim, a supermajority of the playfield. At the start of each level, the playing field is a large, empty rectangle, containing the "Qix"—a stick-like entity that performs graceful but unpredictable motions within the confines of the rectangle.

Qix
Qix Poster.png
North American promotional flyer
Developer(s)Taito America
Publisher(s)Taito
Designer(s)Randy Pfeiffer
Sandy Pfeiffer
SeriesQix
Platform(s)Arcade, Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Atari 8-bit family, Atari 5200, Atari Lynx, Commodore 64, FM-7, Game Boy, Nintendo Entertainment System, MS-DOS, Mobile phone
Release
  • NA: October 1981
  • JP: 1981
Genre(s)Puzzle
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Qix was ported to the contemporary Atari 5200 (1982), Atari 8-bit family (1983),[2] and Commodore 64 (1983), then was brought to a wide variety of systems in the late 1980s and early 1990s: MS-DOS (1989), Amiga (1989), another version for the C64 (1989), Apple IIGS (1990), Game Boy (1990), Nintendo Entertainment System (1991), and Atari Lynx (1991).

GameplayEdit

 
Gameplay screenshot

The player controls a marker that can move around the edges of the rectangle. Holding down one of the draw buttons allows the marker to move into unclaimed territory and draw lines ("Stix") in an attempt to create a closed shape. If completed, the captured area (defined as the side opposite of where the Qix is) becomes filled in with a solid color and points are awarded. To complete a level, the player must claim 65% of the playfield (adjustable by the arcade operator to be between 50% and 90%).

The player's marker can move at two different speeds; areas drawn exclusively at the lower speed (orange-red on the screenshot shown) are worth double points. It cannot cross or backtrack along any Stix in progress. This means that if the marker starts a spiral, it gets smaller and smaller until the marker cannot move and there is no way out, and hence is known in the game as a spiral death trap.

A life is lost if the Qix touches any uncompleted Stix or if the marker is touched by any of the Sparx – enemies that traverse all playfield edges except uncompleted Stix. In addition, if the marker stops while drawing, a fuse will appear and burn along the uncompleted Stix toward the marker; if it reaches the marker, the player loses one life. The fuse disappears once the player moves the marker again. The player has no defenses against the enemies and must out-maneuver them in order to survive.

A meter at the top of the screen counts down to the release of additional Sparx and the mutation of all Sparx into Super Sparx, which can chase the marker along uncompleted Stix.

After the player completes two levels, the difficulty increases by the inclusion of multiple Qixes, additional Sparx, speed increases, and the eventual appearance of only Super Sparx. In levels with multiple Qixes, the player can also complete the level by splitting the playfield into two regions, each containing at least one Qix.

If the level is completed by exceeding the threshold percentage of area (generally 75%), a bonus of 1000 points per percentage point above 75% is awarded. If the level is completed by splitting the Qix, no immediate bonus is awarded, but all scores for all levels for the remainder of the game are multiplied by a bonus multiplier. This multiplier starts at double after the first time the Qix are split up to a maximum possible multiplier of 9.

ReceptionEdit

Reception
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame     [3]
Electronic Fun    [4]

Upon release, Qix was a commercial hit. In 1983, Electronic Games reported that the game exceeded Taito's expectations, quickly rising to being one of the most popular titles of the year. The magazine attributes the game's success to it being unlike any other game at the time, specifically for its unique premise and gameplay mechanics. A year after its debut, its popularity declined and the game became largely forgotten. Keith Egging, a representative for Taito America, told Electronic Games: "Qix was conceptually too mystifying for gamers ... It was impossible to master[,] and once the novelty wore off, the game faded."[5] The game has since been dubbed a sleeper hit.[6]

Qix and its home conversions have received largely positive reviews. The game was praised for its original concept and ideas, and has been described as a cultural phenomenon.[6] At the 5th annual Arkie Awards in 1984, Qix received the Certificate of Merit in the category of "1984 Best Videogame Audio-Visual Effects (16K or more ROM)".[7] Video, who reviewed the Atari 5200 release, applauded its gameplay and bizarre yet interesting premise. They reported similar reactions from players, who enjoyed its mechanics and gameplay.[6] Video staff described the game as being a "cult phenomenon loved by a few and ignored by the blasto brigade". The home computer versions of Qix were praised by Russel Sipe of Computer Gaming World, who enjoyed its "fascinating" gameplay and for welcoming newcomers.[8]

Retrospective coverage of Qix has also been positive. In 1997, the staff at Electronic Gaming Monthly listed the Nintendo Entertainment System version at #100 on their "100 Best Games of All Time" for its risk-versus-reward system and scoring.[9] AllGame's Brett Alan Weiss commended Qix for its addictive gameplay, technological accomplishments, and responsive controls. While he believed the graphics and sound effects were overly-simplistic and crude, he said the game as a whole is "Abstract minimalism at its videogame best."[3] Retro Gamer staff enjoyed Qix particularly for its addictive nature. They compared its concept to that of the Etch A Sketch, a toy that allowed its user to draw straight lines across a small screen. The staff believed the game's simplicity was also one of its strong points, alongside its sound effects for being satisfying to hear.[10] The Killer List of Videogames listed it as #27 in their "Top 100 Video Games" list.[11]

LegacyEdit

SequelsEdit

Qix II - Tournament (1982) is a version of the original Qix with a new color scheme and which awards an extra life when 90% or more of the screen is enclosed.[12] Super Qix was released in 1987. Another sequel, Twin Qix, reached a prototype stage in 1995, but was never commercially released.[12][13] The later game Volfied, also known as Ultimate Qix on Sega Genesis or Qix Neo on PlayStation, was created as an additional sequel to Qix and also released on several mobile phones.

The 1990 Game Boy port of Qix was developed by Nintendo and features intermissions in which Mario is involved; in one, he is seen in the middle of a desert wearing Mexican clothing and playing a guitar with a vulture looking on.[14] The Mexican clothing later appears as a costume that Mario can wear in Super Mario Odyssey.[15] The Game Boy port was released as a Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console title in Japan on June 15, 2011,[16] and in North America and Europe on July 7.[17][18]

In 1999, a remake for the Game Boy Color was released called Qix Adventure. This version features a new "Adventure" mode where the player travels a map screen, taking on various opponents which appear on the playing field. Although optional, enclosing an opponent in the box would open a treasure chest, which can also be enclosed, giving the player an item.[19] Battle Qix was released for the PlayStation in 2002 by Success, under their Super 1500 Lite budget title series. It includes a remake of the original Qix alongside a competitive multiplayer mode.[20] On December 9, 2009, Taito released a new version of Qix for the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Portable, Qix++.[21]

ClonesEdit

  • Fill 'Er Up (1983, Atari 8-bit, ANALOG Computing) [22]
  • Stix (1983, Commodore 64) [23]
  • Styx (1983, MS-DOS, Windmill Software)
  • Frenzy (1984, Acorn Electron and BBC Micro, Micro Power)
  • Qiks (1984, Tandy Color Computer, Spectral Associates) [24]
  • Quix (1984, Tandy Color Computer, Tom Mix Software) [25]
  • Torch 2081 (1986, Amiga, Digital Concepts) [26]
  • Zolyx (1987, Commodore 64, Commodore 16 / Plus-4, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum, Firebird) [27]
  • Maniax (1988, Atari ST, Kingsoft)
  • Gals Panic (1990, arcade, Kaneko), which started a subgenre of adult-themed "uncover the image" games.
  • Cacoma Knight in Bizyland (1992-1993, Super NES/Famicom, Datam Polystar/Seta USA)
  • Dancing Eyes (1996, arcade, Namco), a 3D version of the eroge subgenre, similar to the above Gals Panic
  • AirXonix (2000-2001, Microsoft Windows, AxySoft)

In 2011, Den of Geek included Qix on a list of the top 10 most cloned video games.[28]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Japanese: クイックス Hepburn: Kuikkusu
  2. ^ Pronounced as "Kicks"[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Qix North American promotional flyer. United States of America: Taito America Corporation. October 1981. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  2. ^ I Break for Arcadians: Good news, bad news - new games, joystick reviewed: Qix, By Joaquin Boaz, InfoWorld, 8 Aug 1983, Page 23
  3. ^ a b Alan Weiss, Brett (1998). "Qix - Review". AllGame. All Media. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  4. ^ Michael Brown, William (June 1983). "Qix - Atari/Atari 5200" (Volume 1, Number 8). Fun & Games Publishing. Electronic Fun with Computer & Games. p. 55. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  5. ^ Pearl, Rick (June 1983). "Closet Classics". Electronic Games. p. 82. Retrieved 2015-01-06.
  6. ^ a b c Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (November 1983). "Arcade Alley: Wintertime Winners". Video. Reese Communications. 7 (8): 38–39. ISSN 0147-8907.
  7. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (January 1984). "Arcade Alley: The Arcade Awards, Part 1". Video. Reese Communications. 7 (10): 40–42. ISSN 0147-8907.
  8. ^ Sipe, Russell (October 1989). "What Do You Do For Qix". Computer Gaming World. p. 39.
  9. ^ "100 Best Games of All Time". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 100. Ziff Davis. November 1997. p. 102. Note: Contrary to the title, the intro to the article explicitly states that the list covers console video games only, meaning PC games and arcade games were not eligible.
  10. ^ Retro Gamer Staff (2 July 2009). "Qix". Retro Gamer. Imagine Publishing. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  11. ^ McLemore, Greg; Staff, KLOV (2010). "The Top Coin-Operated Videogames of All Time". Killer List of Videogames. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b Thomasson, Michael (November 2017). "Get Your Kicks From QIX" (1). Old School Gamer Magazine. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Twin Qix - Videogame by Taito". Killer List of Videogames. International Arcade Museum. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  14. ^ Orland, Kyle (February 4, 2011). "The Strange Career Path of Super Mario". 1UP.com. IGN. p. 18. Archived from the original on October 11, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Plunkett, Luke (June 13, 2017). "Super Mario Odyssey's Outfits Are A Nice Throwback". Kotaku. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  16. ^ Bivens, Danny (June 15, 2011). "Japan eShop Round-Up (06/15/2011)". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  17. ^ Langley, Ryan (July 7, 2011). "NA Nintendo Update - Fortified Zone, QIX, Roller Angels And More". GameSetWatch. UBM plc. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  18. ^ Langley, Ryan (July 7, 2011). "EU Nintendo Update - QIX, Fortified Zone, ANIMA: Ark of Sinners And More". GameSetWatch. UBM plc. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  19. ^ IGN Staff (16 November 2000). "Qix Adventure". IGN. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  20. ^ "SuperLite 1500 シリーズ バトルクイックス (PS)". Famitsu (in Japanese). Kadokawa Corporation. Archived from the original on 4 June 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  21. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (9 December 2009). "Qix++ Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  22. ^ Hudson, Tom (March 1983). "Fill 'Er Up". ANALOG Computing (10): 100.
  23. ^ Dillon, Roberto (2014). Ready: A Commodore 64 Retrospective. Springer. p. 141.
  24. ^ Boyle, L. Curtis. "Qiks".
  25. ^ Boyle, L. Curtis. "Quix".
  26. ^ "Torch 2081". Lemon Amiga.
  27. ^ "Zolyx". Lemon64.
  28. ^ Lambie, Ryan (May 6, 2011). "The top 10 most cloned video games". Den of Geek.